Irish-Italian inventor Guglielmo Marconi ushered in a new era of global communications by sending the first radio transmission across the Atlantic Ocean on this day in history, December 12, 1901.

The message was just the letter “s” in Morse code (dot-dot-dot). But it was proven, after years of Marconi's advances, that radio could make the world a smaller place.

The wireless signal traveled 2,000 miles from a transmitting station in Poldhu, Cornwall, in the far southwest of England, to a receiving station in St. John's, Newfoundland.

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“Today, our world of smartphones, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, satellite television and radio, global positioning systems, and wireless computer networks was largely imagined and based on Marconi's electrical experiments,” says the Pioneer Institute, in a think tank independent.

“He was the first person to systematically use radio waves to communicate over long distances, developed wireless telegraphy and is considered the 'father of radio'.”

Guglielmo Marconi with his wireless electrical device. (Photo by © Hulton-Deutsch Collection/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images)

Marconi's invention proved its worth during one of the greatest disasters in human history.

“His radio set is widely considered to be the reason why more than 700 people survived the Titanic disaster in 1912, instead of dying as they probably would have done if ships at sea still used carrier pigeons to communicate over great distances,” writes Federal Communications. Commission.

“His radio set is widely considered the reason more than 700 people survived the Titanic disaster in 1912.”

A Marconi wireless telegraph machine was installed on the doomed Titanic just weeks before sailing.

Operators began frantically transmitting distress signals via radio to several nearby, similarly equipped ships at 12:15 on the morning of 15 April.

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The last signal from the Titanic was received by the RMS Carpathia sometime between 2:15 am and 2:25 am.

“Those who were saved were saved through one man, Mr. Marconi… and his wonderful invention,” said British Postmaster General Herbert Samuel after the disaster.

Titanic survivors

Survivors of the “RMS Titanic” in one of her collapsible lifeboats, shortly before being rescued by the Carpathia. Women participate in rowing. (Universal History Archive/Universal Image Group via Getty Images)

“In an ironic twist, Marconi narrowly avoided traveling on that fateful voyage – he was offered a free ticket for the Titanic, but caught the Lusitânia three days early,” the BBC reported this year.

Marconi won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1909, sharing the honor with German radio pioneer Ferdinand Braun.

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The first transatlantic transmission of 1901 was just one major step in Marconi's years of effort to develop a technology that was questioned by many scientists.

“In 1895, he began laboratory experiments at his father's country estate in Pontecchio, where he was able to send wireless signals over a distance of two and a half kilometers,” reports the Nobel Foundation.

Marconi won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1909, sharing the honor with German radio pioneer Ferdinand Braun.

“In the same year he gave a demonstration to the Italian government at Spezia, where wireless signals were sent over a distance of twelve miles. In 1899 he established wireless communication between France and England across the English Channel.”

Marconi was born into Italian and Irish aristocracy.

James Irish Whiskey

Bottles of Jameson Whiskey for sale at the Old Distillery in Midleton, County Cork, Ireland, on Thursday, December 29, 2016. Radio pioneer Guglielmo Marconi was the great-grandson of James Irish Whiskey founder John Jameson. (Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

His father, Giuseppe Marconi, was a nobleman from the Bologna region of northern Italy; His mother, Annie Jameson, was the granddaughter of famous distiller John Jameson, founder of Jameson Irish Whiskey.

Marconi, among many claims to fame at the end of his life, was chosen to create Vatican Radio in 1931.

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“Just four days after the creation of Vatican City (in February 1929), Pope Pius XI officially commissioned the famous Italian radio pioneer Guglielmo Marconi to build the radio station within the new state,” writes Vatican News in its history of the official means of the state.

Titanic radio message

A Marconi message (radio message) from the Titanic to the Olympic ship is on display at the Bonhams auction house in New York on April 12, 2012. Bonhams held an auction that month called “RMS Titanic: 100 Years Indeed and fiction”, featuring Titanic artifacts, documents related to the ship's sinking, various Titanic-related memorabilia and film props. (EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP via Getty Images)

Marconi introduced the station to the world on February 12, 1931.

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“Speaking in Italian, Marconi said: “I have the greatest honor to announce that, in a matter of seconds, the Supreme Pontiff, Pope Pius XI, will inaugurate the Vatican City State radio station. The electric radio waves will carry your words of peace and blessing throughout the world.'”

Adds Vatican News: “Pope Pius XI thus became the first pontiff in history to address the world via radio.”

Vatican Radio

Pope Pius XI (1857-1939), center, at the inauguration of the Vatican radio station, together with inventor Guglielmo Marconi (1874-1937), February 1931, Vatican City. (Photo by Felici, L'Illustrazione Italiana)

Marconi originally intended to send his first transatlantic radio message from England to a receiving station in Wellfleet, Massachusetts, on Cape Cod.

The American station was not ready in time, so the broadcast went to Newfoundland.

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“Shortly thereafter, Wellfleet Station was ready, and on January 18, 1903, Marconi staged another world premiere (and media event of sorts) by successfully transmitting messages between the President of the United States and the King of England. ” reports the National Park Service.

The transmitting station, on Marconi Beach in Wellfleet, is now the NPS headquarters for the Cape Cod National Seashore, on high dunes overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.

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